Tricia Montgomery credits a doctor with saving her life. However, it wasn’t a surgeon or emergency room physician, but a veterinarian.
On a visit to the vet with her dog Louie, Tricia, who at that point had reached 265 pounds, received some strong words from the animal doctor.
“He said, ‘Every time you come in, you’ve gained weight and Louie has gained weight,’” Tricia vividly recalls. “He said, ‘You’re a beautiful girl, but you have to take care of yourself.’”
Going home in tears, Tricia was filled with self-pity and went on a two-day eating binge. But after two days, she ended the “pity party” and started to figure out how to get healthy. Having a deep love of animals, she went back to that veterinarian and started as a volunteer assistant—cleaning cages, walking dogs, and other tasks. She became intrigued with ways people could work out with their pets and began working out and eating healthy herself. She dropped more than 130 pounds.
When she put the word out in August 2012 about conducting a program at Katherine Legge Memorial Park in Hinsdale for dog owners and their canines, she expected a few curious souls to venture out. When she had 23 people waiting for her before the program’s start time, she knew she was on to something.
That led to her creating K9 Fit Club, which now has 12 locations throughout the nation and a waiting list of people looking to start facilities of their own.
K9 Fit Club, which operates local classes out of an industrial area in Westmont, provides ways to improve fitness levels of both human and canine participants. Classes only have six to eight participants to ensure there is enough space for exercise to take place. Trained fitness personnel give participants a workout based on their fitness level, and dogs are part of the action, working out right along with them.
Tricia, president and founder of the Hinsdale-based business, notes that the Westmont facility has become a haven for individuals finding their way, much as she was not so many years ago. She says 92 percent of her clients are women, many of whom are divorced and find comfort in the companionship of a dog.
“Once people start coming, they don’t stop coming,” Tricia says. “There are some people who come in six days a week.”
Tricia is taken aback by the rapid success the program has achieved. “It started with a silly little idea and it has built up to where we are now.”
Classes run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Westmont facility. Membership is $99 per month and includes unlimited classes.
Tricia takes the K9 Fit Club mission seriously and does not dole out franchises easily. Individuals need to go through licensing and certification at the Westmont facility before given the opportunity to start a workout facility.
On one of the walls of the Westmont facility are the words, “Changing lives one dog at a time.”
Tricia Montgomery is living proof.
K9 Fit Club is based at 33 S. Garfield in Hinsdale. The Westmont facility is located at 104 Chestnut. For more information, call 630-920-1476 or visit k9fitclub.com.
-Kevin Beese // Photography by Joel Lerner